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White Headed = Poor Worker


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By far the most powerful dog I have owned is red. He doesn't take any from anybody. I owned another super powerful red dog. They both come from lines known to produce powerful dogs, which I think is far more important. I kept littermates, a classic marked and a whit face. The classic marked pup had a bolder personality to begin with, so if the white faced proves to be less powerful once he is trained up I will not be blaming it on his color.

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I haven't read all the replies, since the discussion is still going on I'll pass along the most reasonable answer I've ever heard. To sheep, predominantly white bc's (and white in the face) look too much like sheep, and not enough like wolves--so they are believed to be less effective. The black faces/blaze and even split faces go a little further toward stirring the "oh, oh, a predator" alarm in sheep. That's why sheep guardians, like Great Pyrenees and Kuvasz, are predominantly white. It makes the sheep think "it looks enough like another sheep so I'm not that concerned." Now, how that all ties in with black-faced sheep I'm not sure--but this argument always sounded the most reasonable to me. it means that a white faced dog can be just as good a sheepdog as any other, but he might have to work a little harder.

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I always thought that the LGDs were primarily white so that they blended in with the flock and were less obvious to predators, thus allowing them a sort of stealth mode....

 

 

Yes, I thought that this was the case too... but of course it is handy if your sheep don't run away from their guardian!

I also think that sheep get used to different dogs. A friend of mine got a white factored dog and found that for the first few runs out, his sheep didn't respond to it in the same way as they did to his mostly black dogs. It seemed that they didn't recognise what she was. However, she was a powerful individual and soon convinced the sheep differently! Very soon they responded to her just as they would to any other good dog.

 

I've noticed also that at home where sheep graze close to footpaths, they don't tend to move for anything but a sheepdog. You can walk a pet Lab past them and they just stand and watch. So I guess they can take a little while to accept the authority of a dog that doesn't fit their "image" of a sheepdog.

 

The only problem I've realised with my red merle is my being able to spot him on the fells in autumn. He disappears into the bracken!

 

Jenny

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Anyway, welcome to the Boards. I think you'll find this community a better fit. I know I've learned lots in the past two years I've been a member.

 

Yes that was me :D The terribly rude person who apparently criticises any dog that isn't working... and has words put into her mouth :rolleyes:

Thanks for the welcome, I'm looking forward to lots of collie discussions :D

 

Jenny

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LGDs often come in white, just like herding dogs often come in black and white. The color was a side effect; it was just genetics that followed the working genes that were being bred for.

 

Lots of LGDs come in other colors - black, tan, spotted, grey etc. The Navajo use mongrals of all sorts for LGD. The effectiveness has to do with behavior and inherited guarding traits, not color.

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LGDs often come in white, just like herding dogs often come in black and white. The color was a side effect; it was just genetics that followed the working genes that were being bred for.

 

Lots of LGDs come in other colors - black, tan, spotted, grey etc. The Navajo use mongrals of all sorts for LGD. The effectiveness has to do with behavior and inherited guarding traits, not color.

 

I do remember reading about the history of LGDs (Ray Coppinger's book maybe?) and it said that they come in every color. The reason the dogs outside of their regions of origin are generally white or pale is that the people who bought pups off the herdsman specifically sought the white ones. Why the "outsiders" who brought LGDs to the USA and other countries wanted the white ones and not the colored/spotted dogs is a mystery to me (why shrink the gene pool artificially based on color?).

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All my dogs and any dogs that work my sheep effect them differently. At least till the sheep get to know the individual dog. I think it's in the way the dog carries it's self, with confidence or without, with intent or not.

 

I have old bc's that don't work sheep anymore, don't want to, and they can be in with the sheep without the sheep even noticing them. (they really weren't good un's to start with so they ran out of keeness)

My LGD's are white with black marks on his face and a golden white guy. They upset the sheep terribly when they first came here, till the sheep learned they meant no harm and could be bossed around.

 

I think the myth has merit only in the since that so many believe in this old tale that the unusually marked or differently colored bc's get passed up when selecting a working dog. Not that they aren't as good, but not as many are given the chance. There's to many good dogs with white faces out there to really put much stock in that myth to me.

When I first started I had a red dog, when I got serious about learning this art, and choose my next purposeful working dog I didn't pick a dog of different color because I didn't know enough about the truths and the myths so stayed with what seemed normal to me at the time.

 

Now I prefer a dog that has more black, but only because I love my black face boy so he makes me partial. But I've never picked for looks so have never gotten what I think is my favorite looking dog. Besides they all look good when they're doing what they do best!

 

Kristen

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In areas where the breeds are isolated, like pockets in the mountains or steppes with huge distances between populated areas, the dogs end up being mostly white. In areas where there's more travel between populations, you'll see more colored dogs. I'm not sure why this is, just something I've noticed.

 

White dogs are used widely in places where the sheep are mostly colored, and with goats that aren't usually white at all. What clues a prey animal in, to another animal's intent, is the attitude in approaching. A mature livestock guardian is skilled at giving off clues in its body language that reassure a prey animal. Animals not used to guard dogs will still be afraid at first - a dog can only go so far with cross-species communication - but it's the body language that eventually brings the animals around to trusting and following the lead of the dog.

 

I had a Terveren at my place once that acted like a guard dog to the sheep. He was a little confused because his owner was trying to work him like he had a predatory effect on the sheep, but it wasn't working for him. If he placed himself where his owner asked him, the sheep just ignored him. If he got more forceful, my old female would come over and discipline him as if he were a naughty young LGD. Finally, he learned he could just slide in the middle of the group and "suggest" that they come with him, like a guard dog would. That worked fine.

 

Terverens LOOK like big giant wolves, but he had a gentle attitude and gave off Happy Sheep Vibes so the sheep trusted him. It wasn't that he had no power because he had no problem moving stock that wasn't guard dog trained. And once he figured out the magic Baa Ram Ewe words that make my sheep move for the guard dogs, everything was fine. It was a very weird thing.

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